US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Steve Wondzell

Steve Wondzell

Research Ecologist
3200 SW Jefferson Way
United States

Phone: 541-758-8753
Contact Steve Wondzell

Current Research

My research is broadly focused on riparian ecohydrology. Most of that research falls into three specific topics:

(1) The hyporheic zone - I am exploring the factors that control stream-groundwater interactions and create hyporheic zones in mountain stream networks and quantifying their effects on stream ecosystem processes.

(2) Aquatic/riparian stream network modeling - I am using models to project the response of riparian zones, stream channels, and salmon habitat to plant succession, natural disturbance, and land-use activities.

(3) Stream temperature monitoring and modeling - I am exploring the factors controlling stream temperatures and how they respond to natural disturbance, land-use practices, restoration, and climate change.

Research Interests

  • Basic and applied problems in watershed management and riparian and aquatic ecosystems
  • Interactions between hydrological, geomorphological, and ecological processes that create, maintain, or modify aquatic and riparian habitats
  • Ways in which these processes either interact with, or are affected by, land-use practices
  • Developing models and decision support tools that synthesize the current knowledge of aquatic and riparian systems into forms that can help inform management decisions at large spatial and temporal scales

Past Research

My early career was spent as a desert plant community ecologist. I received my undergraduate degree in range science, continuing with a master's degree in plant community ecology, and then working at the Jornada Long-Term Ecological Research Site in the Chihuahuan Desert of south-central New Mexico. My master's thesis examined dynamics of desert grassland plant communities in the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion, using data from a long-term project begun in 1955. I have been working with colleagues to continue that project, and we now have a unique, 50-year dataset, based on permanent plots and permanent photo points, that tracks vegetation dynamics in the desert grasslands and pinyon-juniper woodlands of Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Why This Research is Important

Water is of critical importance to human societies. It is a resource that is continually renewed by the hydrological cycle. Understanding the hydrological cycle and how it interacts with ecosystems is important to sustainable management of water resources. The hyporheic zone is a key component of hydrologic systems. Management decisions and their resulting effects on riparian vegetation can be a key factor determining water quality and habitat suitability for many species, including many cold-water-dependent species of salmon and trout. Understanding the factors controlling stream temperature will help inform management strategies to better cope with the effects of our changing climate.


  • Oregon State University, Ph.D. Forest Ecology/Hyporheic Zones 1994
  • New Mexico State University, M.S. Plant Community Ecology 1984
  • New Mexico State University, B.S. Range Science 1981

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysical Union, Member (1990 - Current)
    Served as Associate Editor from January 2013 through December 2014
  • Ecological Society of America, Member (1990 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • Editor's Citation for Excellence in Fefereeing - Water Resources Research, 2004
    The reviewer has been cited by editors of AGU journals for excellence in refereeing. The editors' citations recognize individuals are commended for consistently providing constructive and thoughtful reviews.

Featured Publications & Products


Citations of non US Forest Service Publications

  • Wondzell, S. M. 1984. Recovery of Desert Grasslands in Big Bend National Park Following 36 Years of Protection from Grazing of Domestic Livestock. MS Thesis, New Mexico State University.

  • Ludwig, J.A.; Wondzell, S.M. 1986. Vegetation Dynamics Following Establishment of Big Bend National Park U.S.A. In: P.J. Joss, P.W. Lynch, and O.B. Williams, eds. Rangelands: A Resource Under Siege. Proceedings of the Second International Rangeland Congress, Canberra, Australia: 13–15.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Cunningham, G.L.; Bachelet, D. 1987. A Hierarchical Classification of Landforms: Some Implications for Understanding Local and Regional Vegetation Dynamics. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-150. United States Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 15–23.

  • Bachelet, D.; Wondzell, S.M.; Reynolds, J. F. 1988. A Simulation Model Using Environmental Cues to Predict Phenologies of Winter and Summer Annuals in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. In: Marani, A., ed. Advances in Environmental Modelling. Elsevier: 235–260.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Cunningham, G.L.; Cornelius, J.M. 1990. Vegetation patterns, microtopography, and soils on a Chihuahuan desert playa. Journal of Vegetation Science. 1:403–410.

  • Swanson, F.J.; Wondzell, S.M.; Grant, G.E. 1992. Landforms, Disturbance, and Ecotones. In: F. diCastri and A.J. Hansen, eds. Landscape boundaries: Consequences for biotic diversity and ecological flows. Springer-Verlag. 92:304–323.

  • Wondzell, S. 1994. Flux of ground water and nitrogen through the floodplain of a fourth-order stream. Ph.D. Thesis. Oregon State University, Corvallis OR.

  • Wondzell, S.; Ludwig, J.A. 1995. Community Dynamics of Desert Grasslands: Influences of Climate, Landforms, and Soils. Journal of Vegetation Science. 6:377–390.

  • Wondzell, S. M.; Cunningham, G.L.; Bachelet, D. 1996. Relationships between Landforms, Geomorphic Processes, and Vegetative Communities on a Watershed in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. Landscape Ecology. 11:351–362.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Swanson, F.J. 1996. Seasonal and storm dynamics of the hyporheic zone of a 4th-order mountain stream. I: Hydrologic processes. The Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 15:3–19.

  • Wondzell, S.; Swanson, F.J. 1996. Seasonal and storm dynamics of the hyporheic zone of a 4th-order mountain stream. II: Nitrogen cycling. The Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 15:20–34.

  • Pinay, G.; Ruffinoni, C.; Wondzell, S.M.; Gazelle, F. 1998. Change in groundwater nitrate concentration in a large river floodplain: Denitrification, uptake, or mixing? The Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 17:179–189.

  • Wondzell, S. M.; Swanson, F.J. 1999. Floods, Channel Change and the Hyporheic Zone. Water Resources Research. 35:355–368.

  • Johnson, S. L.; Swanson, F.J.; Grant, G.E.; Wondzell, S.M. 2000. Riparian forest disturbances by a mountain flood – the influence of floated wood. Hydrological Processes. 14:3031–3050.

  • Nakamura, F.; Swanson, F. J.; and Wondzell, S.M. 2000. Disturbance regimes of stream and riparian systems – a disturbance-cascade perspective. Hydrological Processes. 14:2849–2860.

  • Wondzell, S. M. 2001. The Influence of Forest Health and Protection Treatments on Erosion and Stream Sedimentation in Forested Watersheds of Eastern Oregon and Washington. Northwest Science. 75:128–140.

  • Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S.M.; Johnson, M.A. 2002. Power-Law Residence Time Distribution in the Hyporheic Zone of a 2nd-Order Mountain Stream. Geophysical Research Letters. 29(13):18-1–18-4. doi:10.1029/2002GL014743

  • Kasahara, T.; Wondzell, S.M. 2003. Geomorphic Controls on Hyporheic Exchange Flows in Mountain Streams. Water Resources Research. 39(1): 1005. doi:10.1029/2002WR001386

  • Wondzell, S.M.; King, J.G. 2003. Post-fire Erosional Processes: Comparing the Pacific Northwest Region to the Interior Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountain Region. Forest Ecology and Management. 178:75–87.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Bisson, P.A. 2003. Influence of Wood on Aquatic Biodiversity. In: S.V. Gregory, K.L. Boyer, and A.M. Gurnell, eds. The ecology and management of wood in world rivers. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 37, Bethesda, Maryland: 249–264.

  • Bisson, P.A.; Wondzell, S.M.; Gregory, S.V.; Reeves, G.H. 2003. Trends in Using Wood to Restore Aquatic Habitats and Fish Communities in Western North American Rivers. In: S.V. Gregory, K.L. Boyer, and A.M. Gurnell, eds. The ecology and management of wood in world rivers. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 37, Bethesda, Maryland: 391–406.

  • Gooseff, M.N.; Wondzell, S.M.; Haggerty, R.; Anderson, J. 2003. Comparing Transient Storage Modeling and Residence Time Distribution (RTD) Analysis in Geomorphically Varied Reaches in the Lookout Creek Basin, Oregon, USA. Advances in Water Resources. 26:925–937.

  • Thompson, J.; Duncan, S. 2004. Following a river wherever it goes: beneath the surface of mountain streams, based on science by Steve Wondzell. Science Findings #67.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Howell, P.J. 2004. Developing a decision support model for assessing condition and prioritizing the restoration of aquatic habitat in the interior Columbia Basin. PNW-GTR-610. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 73–81. Chapter 6.

  • Shibata, H.; Sugawara, O.; Toyoshima, H.; Wondzell, S.M.; Nakamura, F.; Kasahara, T.; Swanson, F.J.; Sasa, K. 2004. Nitrogen dynamics in the hyporheic zone of a forested stream during a small storm, Hokkaido, Japan. Biogeochemistry. 69:83–104.

  • Gooseff, M.N.; Anderson, J.K.; Wondzell, S.M.; LaNier, J.; Haggerty, R. 2005. A modeling study of hyporheic exchange pattern and sequence, size, and spacing of stream bedforms in mountain stream networks. Hydrological Processes. 19:2915–2929.

  • Anderson, J.K.; Wondzell, S.M.; Gooseff, M.N.; Haggerty, R. 2005. Patterns in stream longitudinal profiles and implications for hyporheic exchange flow at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA. Hydrological Processes. 19:2931–2949.

  • Moore, R.D.; Wondzell, S.M. 2005. Physical hydrology and the effects of forest harvesting in the Pacific Northwest: A Review. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 41:763–784.

  • Thompson, J. 2005. Keeping it cool: unraveling the influences on stream temperature, based on science by Sherri Johnson and Steve Wondzell. Science Findings #73.

  • Wondzell, S.M. 2006. Effect of morphology and discharge on hyporheic exchange flows in two small streams in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, USA. Hydrological Processes. 20:267–287.

  • Harris, R.M.; Clifton, C.; Wondzell, S.M. 2007. Hillslope Erosion Rates in Areas with Volcanic Parent Materials and the Effects of Prescribed Fires in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon and Washington, USA. PNW-GTR-689. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Burnett, K.M.; Kline, J.D. 2007. Landscape analysis: Projecting the effects of management and natural disturbances on forest and watershed resources of the Blue Mountains, OR, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning. 80:193–197.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Hemstrom, M.A.; Bisson, P.A. 2007. Simulating riparian vegetation and aquatic habitat dynamics in response to natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes in the Upper Grande Ronde River, Oregon, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning. 80:249–267.

  • Houlahan, J.E.; Cottenie, K.; Cumming G.S.; Currie, D.J.; Ernest, S.K.M.; Findlay, C.S.; Fuhlendorf, S.D.; Gaedke, U.; Legendre, P.; Magnuson, J.J.; McArdle, B.H.; Muldavin, E.H.; Noble, D.; Russell, R.; Stevens, R.D.; Willis, T.J.; Woiwod, I.P.; Wondzell, S.M. 2007. Compensatory dynamics are rare in natural ecological communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104:3273–3277.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Gooseff, M.N.; McGlynn, B.L. 2007. Flow velocity and the hydrologic behavior of streams during baseflow. Geophysical Research Letters. 34: L24404. doi:10.1029/2007GL031256

  • Thompson, J. 2007. Simulating the consequences of land management, based on science by Steven Wondzell, Miles Hemstrom, and Pete Bisson. Science Findings #92.

  • Gooseff, M.N.; Bencala, K.E.; Wondzell, S.M. 2008. Solute Transport Along Stream and River Network. In: S. Rice, A. Roy, and B. Rhoads, eds. River Confluences, Tributaries and the Fluvial Network. John Wiley and Sons: Chichester, U.K.: 397–417. Chapter 18.

  • Gooseff, M.N.; Wondzell, S.M.; McGlynn, B.L. 2008. On the Relationships Among Temporal Patterns of Evapotranspiration, Stream Flow and Riparian Water Levels in Headwater Catchments During Baseflow [Abstract]. International Association of HydroGeologists Congress, Toyama, Japan. Oct. 26–Nov. 1, 2008.

  • Houlahan, J.E.; Cottenie, K.; Cumming, G.S.; Currie, D.J.; Findlay, C.S.; Gaedke, U.; Legendre, P.; Magnuson, J.J.; McArdle, B.H.; Stevens, R.D.; Woiwod, I.P.; Wondzell, S.M. 2008. The utility of covariances: A response to Ranta et al. Oikos. 117(12): 1912–1913. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2008.17078.x

  • Wondzell, S.M.; LaNier, J.; Haggerty, R. 2009. Evaluation of alternative groundwater flow models for simulating hyporheic exchange in a small mountain stream. Journal of Hydrology. 364:142–151, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.10.011

  • Jencso, K.J.; McGlynn, B.L.; Gooseff, M.N.; Wondzell, S.M.; Bencala, K.E. 2009. Hydrologic Connectivity between landscapes and streams: Transferring reach and plot scale understanding to the catchment scale. Water Resources Research. W04428. doi:10.1029/2008WR007225

  • Wondzell, S.M.; LaNier, J.; Haggerty, R.; Woodsmith, R.D.; Edwards, R.T. 2009. Changes in hyporheic exchange flow following experimental wood removal in a small low gradient stream. Water Resources Research. 45: W05406. doi:10.1029/2008WR007214

  • Payn, R.A.; Gooseff, M.N.; McGlynn, B.L.; Bencala, K.E.; Wondzell, S.M. 2009. Channel water balance and exchange with subsurface flow along a mountain headwater stream in Montana, USA. Water Resources Research. 45: W11427. doi:10.1029/2008WR007644

  • Anjozian, L-N. 2009. Angle of Repose: Testing erosion and prescribed fire in eastern Oregon and Washington’s Blue Mountains. Based on science by Steve Wondzell, Caty Clifton, and Robin Harris. Joint Fire Sciences Program, Fire Science Brief #44.

  • Parks, N. 2009. Exploring connections between landscapes and streams, based on science by Steve Wondzell, Kelsey Jensco, and Rob Payn. Science Findings #119.

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Gooseff, M.N.; McGlynn, B.L. 2010. An analysis of alternative conceptual models relating hyporheic exchange flow to diel fluctuations in discharge during baseflow recession. Hydrological Processes. 24: 686–694.

  • Jencso, K.J.; McGlynn, B.L.; Gooseff, M.N.; Bencala, K.E.; Wondzell, S.M. 2010. Hillslope hydrologic connectivity controls riparian groundwater turnover: Implications of catchment structure for riparian buffering and stream water sources. Water Resources Research. 46:W10524. doi:10.1029/2009WR008818

  • Wondzell, S.M. 2010. Water and sustainability: Reflections from the Western United States. Northwest Science. 84(3): 310–312.

  • Wondzell, S.M. 2011. The role of the hyporheic zone across stream networks. Hydrological Processes. 25: 3525–3532.

  • Zarnetske, J.P.; Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S.M.; Baker, M.A. 2011. Dynamics of nitrate production and removal as a function of residence time in the hyporheic zone. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. 116: G01025. doi:10.1029/2010JG001356

  • Zarnetske, J.P.; Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S.M.; Baker, M.A. 2011. Labile dissolved organic carbon supply limits hyporheic denitrification, Journal of Geophysical Research. 116: G04036. doi:10.1029/2011JG001730

  • Janisch, J.E.; Wondzell, S.M.; Ehinger, W.J. 2012. Headwater stream temperature: Interpreting response after logging, with and without riparian buffers, Washington, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2011.12.035

  • Zarnetske, J.P.; Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S.M.; Bokil, V.A.; González-Pinzón, R. 2012. Coupled transport and reaction kinetics control the nitrate source-sink function of hyporheic zones. Water Resources Research. 48: W11508. doi:10.1029/2012WR011894

  • Payn, R.A.; Gooseff, M.N.; McGlynn, B.L.; Bencala, K.E.; Wondzell, S.M. 2012. Exploring changes in the spatial distribution of stream baseflow generation during a seasonal recession. Water Resources Research. 48: W04519. doi:10.1029/2011WR011552

  • Diabat, M.; Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S. M. 2012. Diurnal timing of warmer air under climate change affects magnitude, timing and duration of stream temperature change. Hydrological Processes. doi:10.1002/hyp.9533

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Przeszlowska, A.; Pflugmacher, D.; Hemstrom, M.A.; Bisson, P.A. 2012. Modeling the Dynamic Responses of Riparian Vegetation and Salmon Habitat in the Oregon Coast Range with State and Transition Models. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-869. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 173–196.

  • Wondzell, S.M. 2012. Hyporheic Zones in Mountain Streams: Physical Processes and Ecosystem Functions. Stream Notes January-April 2012, Stream System Technology Center, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ft. Collins, CO.

  • Bisson, P.A.; Claeson, S.M.; Wondzell, S.M.; Foster, A.D.; Steel, A. 2013. Evaluating Headwater Stream Buffers: Lessons Learned from Watershed-scale Experiments in Southwest Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-880. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 165–184.

  • Ward, A.S.; Payn, R.A.; Gooseff, M.N.; McGlynn, B.L; Bencala, K.E.; Kelleher, C.A.; Wondzell, S.M.; Wagener, T. 2013. Variations in surface water‐ground water interactions along a headwater mountain stream: Comparisons between transient storage and water balance analyses. Water Resources Research. 49: 3359–3374. doi:10.1002/wrcr.20148

  • Wondzell, S.M.; Gooseff, M.N. 2013. Geomorphic Controls on Hyporheic Exchange across Scales - Watersheds to Particles. In: Shroder, J., ed. Treatise on Geomorphology, Vol. 9, Fluvial Geomorphology. Academic Press: San Diego, CA: 203–218.

  • Mazza, R. 2014. The Stream Subsurface: Nitrogen Cycling and the Cleansing Function of Hyporheic Zones, based on science by Jay Zarnetske, Steven Wondzell, and Roy Haggerty. Science Findings #166.

  • Zarnetske, J.P.; Haggerty, R.; Wondzell, S.M. 2015. Coupling multiscale observations to evaluate hyporheic nitrate removal at the reach scale. Freshwater Science. 34(1): 172–186.

  • Larned, S.T.; Gooseff, M.N.; Packman, A.I.; Rugel, K.; Wondzell, S.M. 2015. Groundwater—surface-water interactions: current research directions. Freshwater Science. 34(1): 92–98.

  • Wondzell, S.M. 2015. Groundwater–surface-water interactions: perspectives on the development of the science over the last 20 years. Freshwater Science. 34(1): 368–376.

  • Ward, A.S.; Schmadel, N.M.; Wondzell, S.M.; Harman, C.; Gooseff, M.N.; Singha, K. 2016. Hydrogeomorphic controls on hyporheic and riparian transport in two headwater mountain streams during base flow recession. Water Resources Research. 52: 1479–1497. doi:10.1002/2015WR018225

  • Penaluna, B.E.; Olson, D.H.; Flitcroft, R.L.; Weber, M.; Bellmore, J.R.; Wondzell, S.M.; Dunham, J.B.; Johnson, S.L.; Reeves, G.H. 2016. Aquatic biodiversity in forests: A weak link in ecological and ecosystem resilience. Biodiversity and Conservation. 26(13): 3125–3155.

  • Argerich, A.; Haggerty, R.; Johnson, S.L.; Wondzell, S.M.; Dosch, N.; Corson-Rikert, H.; Ashkenas, L.R.; Pennington, R.; Thomas, C.K. 2016. Comprehensive multiyear carbon budget of a temperate headwater stream. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. 121. doi:10.1002/2015JG003050

  • Corson-Rikert, H.A.; Wondzell, S.M.; Haggerty, R.; Santelmann, M. 2016. Carbon dynamics in the hyporheic zone of a headwater mountain stream in the Cascade Mountains, Oregon. Water Resources Research. 52: 7556–7576. doi:10.1002/2016WR019303

  • Ludwig, J.A.; Wondzell, S.M.; Muldavin, E.H.; Blanche, K.R.; Chauvin, Y. 2017. Native desert grassland plant species declines and accelerated erosion in the Paint Gap Hills of southwest Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist. 62(1): 53–61.

  • Schmadel, N.M.; Ward, A.S.; Wondzell, S.M. 2017. Hydrologic controls on hyporheic exchange in a headwater mountain stream. Water Resources Research. 53: 6260–6278. doi:10.1002/2017WR020576

  • Ward, A.S.; Schmadel, N.M.; Wondzell, S.M.; Gooseff, M.N.; Singha, K. 2017. Dynamic hyporheic and riparian flow path geometry through base flow recession in two headwater mountain stream corridors. Water Resources Research. 53: 3988–4003. doi:10.1002/2016WR019875

Research Highlights


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Last updated on : 09/23/2020